Gaza Power Plant

The Gaza power plant began operating in 2002 to provide electricity to the Gaza Strip, especially in and around Gaza City, where about half of the residents of the Strip live. Its maximum manufacturing capacity, which at the outset was 140 MW, was restricted in practice by the limited capacity of the relay network. In June 2006, the power plant manufactured 90 MW and another 120 MW was provided to the Gaza Strip by the Israel Electric Corporation, in exchange for payment by the PA.

After Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured in June 2006, Israel bombed the power plant, which supplied 43% of the electricity in Gaza. Due to the consequent power shortage in Gaza, Egypt began providing the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip with 17 MW of electricity, also paid for by the PA. Following its reconstruction, the power plant reached a maximum manufacturing capacity of 80 MW in December 2007. Its manufacturing capacity was dependent on Israel, which was the exclusive source for the purchase of the industrial diesel fuel needed to operate the plant, and which controlled its supply to the Gaza Strip. The Gaza electrical system is also dependent on Israel for the transfer of the spare parts the Palestinian electric company buys from Israeli or foreign companies.

In October 2007, following its declaration of Hamas-controlled Gaza as a “hostile territory”, Israel began limiting the amount of industrial diesel the Palestinian Fuel Authority is allowed to transfer to Gaza. Following a petition submitted by Gisha to the Supreme Court, the state informed the court at the end of January 2008 that it would allow supply of fuel based on a “humanitarian minimum”, which Israel defined as 2.2 million liters of industrial diesel per week. Israel allowed this amount to enter the Strip until the end of 2009 – a quota which provided 63% of the power plant’s need for industrial diesel

At the end of 2009, the European Union stopped funding the purchase of industrial diesel for the power plant. Since then, the amount of diesel entering the Gaza Strip dropped even further due to a domestic Palestinian dispute concerning its funding. Since January 2011, no industrial diesel fuel has entered the Gaza Strip from Israel. The power plant has been using regular diesel purchased by the Energy Authority in Gaza through tunnels from Egypt. The use of regular diesel causes sulfur emissions and air pollution, and is therefore not an adequate substitute for industrial diesel. Furthermore, the supply of regular diesel through the tunnels is not stable and dropped temporarily following mass demonstrations in Egypt at the end of January 2011.

Today the Gaza Strip needs a total electricity supply of 280 MW at times of peak demand in the summer and winter: 120 MW comes from Israel, 17 MW from Egypt and the rest of the needed electricity, 143 MW, is supposed to be supplied by the Gaza power plant, whose actual manufacturing capacity is limited to 60-70 MW because of shortages of spare parts and/or industrial diesel. Therefore, there is a permanent deficit in Gaza of at least 73 MW, or nearly 26% of the required electricity.

As a result, the Gaza Strip is subject to power outages, lasting 35-40 hours per week. In addition to the impact on the daily lives of Gaza residents, the power outages disrupt the normal functioning of civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including health and educational institutions, water and sewage facilities and the agricultural sector.

For more on the Gaza power plant:

To view the Supreme Court final decision in the petition of Ahmad al-Bassiouni to renew the fuel supply to Gaza, H.C 9132/07 (unofficial translation into English), click here.
To read the report “Red Lines Crossed: Destruction of Gaza’s Infrastructure”, August 2009, click here.
To read the position paper “Electricity Shortage in Gaza: Who turned out the lights?”, May 2010, click here.
To read the post “A Different Kind of Power Struggle”, February 3, 2010, click here.
To view the presentation “The Collapse of Gaza’s Electricity System – Well-Planned and Foretold in Advance”, January 2009, click here.